Welbar Chicken Breed
- Originating from the UK
- Primary uses: Eggs and meats
- Lifespan: 6 – 7 years
- Production (annual): 200 eggs
- Size: Large
- Color: Dark Brown – Terracotta
- Cock: 6.5 – 7.5 lb
- Hen: 5 – 6 lb
- Cock: 32 oz
- Hen: 26 oz
- Colors: pale gold with black barring
- Useful to Know: an auto-sexing breed and it is easy to tell a chick at 1 day old is a male or female.
Welbars are nowadays very rare and are considered a forgotten breed. They are one of the few autosexing breeds so far. Actually, they are a result of the combination of Barred Plymouth Rock and Welsummer breeds. Hens strongly look like Bielefelders but lay darker eggs. Both hens and roosters are somewhat heavier than Welsummers.
Welbar hens are more famous for their great egg-laying with a reasonable number of eggs per year. But roosters are sometimes great table birds. Roosters are much lighter with very faded or no stripes and a white head spot.
Background and History
In 1940, Mr. Humphreys of Eastwrey, Devon had the idea of creating Welbars. He came to the breeder of cream Legbars for advice. After that, there were chicks from the combination between the initial Welsummer and Barred Rock in 1941.
Cockerels from this mating were simultaneously bred with Welsummer hens to create gold and silver welbars. The chicken breed received recognition by the Poultry Club of Great Britain in 1948 and still exists in the UK in small numbers today. They developed both gold and silver varieties, but the silver variety is the standard.
In general, Welbars are upright, active chickens with well-built bodies, broad, long backs, and a full, round breast.
- The wings are neat along two sides and the tail is quite large and goes upright.
- Their abdomen is deep and wide.
- The break is short, deep while their single comb is medium in size and looks firm and upright.
- Welbars have a smooth face, small earlobes, and medium-size wattles which are close together.
- Abundant hackle goes with a long, slender neck.
- There are no feathers covering two legs which have four toes each.
- They have silky plumage.
- The Silver Welbar is silver all over with occasional black on the hackle, wings, and tail. Female Silver Welbars have a salmon breast, black striped hackle, and dark grey tail.
- As the name suggests, the Gold Welbar is almost gold, but there are some differences between males and females. While the male appears with black sticking on the hackle, black barring on the wings and tail, and black with gold barring on the breast, the female seems to be more colorful with black striping and white barring on the head and hackle.
- They have large, bright eyes which have a ‘Cleopatra’ type eye marking. This makes them look like they are wearing eye makeup.
- The plumage is tight, silky, free from excess or coarseness, and free from bagginess.
- Babies’ females are yellow and brown while baby males are lighter with faded stripes.
Welbars are quite active birds. Like almost all other chicken breeds, Welbars love to forage all day on the jungle floor for food tracing.
When it is warm, Welbars like to scratch in bushes and trees at the top of the garden. They would forage across a large area to trace for bugs, beetles, and worms. Then when the winter comes and it is very cold outside, they stay inside and scratch on the floor.
Welbars really enjoy a dust-bath. This habit can make them free of mites, get rid of irritating chicken itches. You can help this favorite of them by preparing dry soil or sand. By this, when they get up, they just simply shake themselves off and become perfectly fine.
All Welbars experience moult once a year in the late summer and autumn.
Welbar chickens are considered to have low and moderate broodiness.
Welbar Chicken Productivity (Egg Laying and Meat Production)
Is Welbar Chicken Good for Eggs?
Welbar is a good utility breed laying a reasonable number of eggs. Hens are high producers of dark brown eggs. In the winter months, they do not lay eggs every day, but they can help you do not have to buy more eggs.
The best layers can produce an egg a day continuously for a few weeks and have just some days off. The most important factor deciding a hen to perform properly is a balanced diet. They even do not lay eggs if they do not get enough nutrition. Also, the hens need a clean living environment and enough fresh water to lay more eggs.
Though Welbars are an auto-sexing chicken, you should keep some cockerels with your hens. It is not only good for fertile eggs but also makes hens function better in their flock.
Their capacity of laying a deep rich brown egg is equivalent to those of Welsummer, which is moderate to good.
Is Welbar Chicken Good for Meat?
Meat production is not the most important role of Welbar chickens. But, Welbar cocks are still big enough to be acceptable for table chickens. Their meat is still a favorite of many people who love how it tastes differently.
Common Issues of the Welbar Chicken
The father of Welbar bantams is John Buck of Bristol. They are still rare now but have the potential to become more popular. It is because the dark brown eggs and bantam keepers are more interested in eggs than showing. Honestly, there has been a modest increase in the number of people keeping them recently. Welbar bantams appear all to be of the correct light form with two barring genes.
Also, the chickens are often outside and in contact with wild birds. And they can easily get parasites and diseases if they do not have a strong immune system.
Welbar chickens have a quite good tolerance for confinement. They can live well in a limited space of a run. However, it is better to give the chickens enough space to wander around a bit. It is suggested to place perches 30 cm apart and allow 15 cm of perch space per hen. On the outside, it should be 4 square meters per chicken in minimum, and 2,500 hens per hectare in the commercial raising.
If you have space, you could consider a permanent pen with the house. Then you could keep the Welbars inside until mid-morning or lunch and then leave them into the grass pens in rotation.
The bottom line is to keep the Welbars dry and to keep the house ventilated with a minimum of draughts. This will make sure there is no wind getting inside the pen and make the chickens get sick.
Further reading: 21 Best Chicken Keeping eBooks
Benefits and Drawbacks of Raising Welbar Chickens
They have moderate to good heat tolerance, so the warmer weather suits them. Their diet is also simple to follow and does not require any complicated food.
Welbars are smart, active, and have a high awareness of predators. They also seem very friendly and docile. Welbars are not aggressive toward flock members. Even Welbars are likely to end up on the bottom of your flock’s pecking order.
Their crow is not too loud, so it is easier to keep Welbars than other breeds. They are even quite quiet, so keepers do not have to resist too annoying sounds like other breeds.
Challenges or Drawbacks
Welbars are not really good at tolerating cold temperatures. When they get sick, it is hard to diagnose what is wrong with the chickens. And you need the help of a vet to heal them.
This chicken breed sometimes appears a little skittish and a little flighty.
Is the Welbar chicken Right for You?
In general, Welbars are easy birds to keep and lay well. Welbar bantams are very docile cute little birds. It is easy to handle and tame them. Also, they do not mind being confined to space. The roosters often defend their hens against other pets like dogs, birds, and cats. That is such a good characteristic of them! If you are looking for a chicken breed that can provide you and your family with a considerable and consistent number of eggs each year, Welbars might be a very good option.
How to Raise the Welbar Chickens
Nowadays domesticated chickens have been bred to lay more eggs and become bigger for more meat. By giving them good food and favorable living conditions, you will make it more likely to make that happen. A healthy flock is a reward to you in the end. Let’s see some notes while raising Welbars chickens:
- For bedding, the most traditional method for poultry is straw or chopped straw like wheat, barley, and rape. There are alternatives like dried bracken or dried grass clippings, woodchip, or shredded newspaper.
- You should make sure there is shade on sunny days for Welbars to be safe from the heat. And it is very beneficial to roof part of the run to keep the rain off.
- Grit is necessary for hens to help them digest their food and shell to help them produce strong shelled eggs. You can place grit and shell in a small hopper somewhere in their pen so that they can easily get some when they want.
- Welbars always need access to plenty of fresh, clean water.
- A mixture of layers’ pellets and corn is a choice for the Welbars’ diet. The ratio can be 50z of layers’ pellets and 20z of corn. The feeds should be 2 times a day, in the morning and in the evening.
- You should not give Welbars leftovers. Instead, try to feed them fresh food like brassicas, lettuce, and fruit that Welbars get more interest and extra protein.
- To balance their diet, micronized peas and some kind of grain like wheat are necessary.
You may also like: Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Chickens
1/ What do Welbar chickens look like?
They are in medium size with the predominant color feather of pale gold with black barring, but there is rich gold coloring in the neck and saddle hackles. They look attractive with some degree of hot chestnut in the back and wing coverts.
2/ Are Welbar chickens autosexing?
Yes, they are one of the few autosexing breeds that can be told at the age of 2 days old.
3/ Is it easy to keep Welbars?
Poultry keepers normally agree that there is no difficulty in keeping Welbars. They are friendly and docile and can get on well with the flock members.
Being quite similar to the Welsummer chicken breed, you might be expecting Welbars to have the same advanced characteristics. And Welbars certainly do. They are quite great layers for dark-colored eggs and are 100% sexable at hatch. Welbars are quite rare though, but with people keeping this chicken breed already, they have a positive attitude. They find it easy to take care of Welbars and can get a lot of benefits. Welbars have excellent personalities and roosters are also large for great table birds.
Links to useful resources:
- ”Harislau: Utility Poultry & Fancy Pigeons”, Harislau & Megrim
- ”Welbars”, Rare Breeds Survival Trust
- ”Welbar”, Omlet
- ”Welbar chicken hatcheries and breeders”, The Feather Brain